Web comic "Surfer Joe"

Teaching your Kids to Chase the Carrot (#054)

Teaching your Kids to Chase the Carrot

Sharing your passions with you kids can be taxing…

Especially when they don’t seem to get it. It can be hard, as parents, to tell the difference between what we want for them vs. what we want for ourselves. This is because most parents have trouble putting themselves in their kids’ shoes. As we grow older we start to develop achievement goals and the drive to set out for them, and we begin to assume that this is how everyone works. The adult world is full of driven, hard-working people, scrambling to fulfill some made-up higher purpose.

Kids aren’t bogged down with such nonsense. It’s not that they’re not driven. They can be extremely so. But what drives them is very different than what drives adults. They are more into spending time with the people they like(hopefully their parents) and will use anything as an excuse to spend time with them. They’ll adopt our silly pursuits as their own if it means it’ll earn our affection.

Parents can mistake this drive for affection as a drive for “purpose”

When this happens, the parents start pushing their kids harder. The harder parents push, the harder it becomes for the kids to win their approval. If the parent pushes too hard the kid will lose interest altogether. 

My kids are mostly into the same things I like. I try and be mindful that it is because they want to spend time with me more so than a genuine passion for these things. I’m not saying there isn’t genuine passion, but that it is not my place to decide. It is my place to nurture their passions and give my approval freely.

To what end are we striving for as adults? What is this carrot we keep chasing, and why is it so important? 

I believe that everyone is born with purpose. It is built into us when we enter the world, already fulfilled. Kids instinctively understand this, and as such are fine with merely existing. But as we grow older the world tells us that it is not enough. It gets beaten into our brains until the point when we cast ourselves aside in search of our true “purpose”. And so we chase the carrot.

But what if the carrot is a mirage?


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